“My dear Sanchez, it is good to see you, though I wish we were meeting under better circumstances,” Bridget said, as Sanchez let her and George into his suite.
“As do I, dear lady, as do I. We may speak freely here; I had the room swept earlier today. This report... to say it troubles me would be an understatement. This makes twice... I do not yet know what went wrong, though I suspect betrayal. That matter will be dealt with, severely.”
Bridget took a proffered martini. “Thank you... What must we do now, regarding Trevor?”
Sanchez frowned. “Bridget, we have known one another for many years. Trust me when I say that my discomfort here is extreme. I accepted your contract. I will fulfill it... and this time, there will be no possible doubt. I will accept nothing less than the boy’s head, and the contract will be fulfilled only when I present his head to you. There will be no further failure; you have my word of honor.”
Bridget knew that Sanchez’s promise of Trevor’s severed head was meant literally, so she smiled. “I look forward to that day. Thank you, Sanchez.”
Sanchez gestured to the balcony, where a large formally set dinner table had been emplaced. “There is, I am afraid, little we can do until a report I am waiting for comes in. In the meantime, please allow me the honor of joining me for dinner. The chef here... he is superb.”
Sanchez showed Bridget and George to the table, seated them, and then took a seat at its head. He felt, in his cold heart, the tinge of shame; he had failed, not once but twice, and it ate at him. Worse, it was harmful to his reputation, a reputation that was central to his power. He hoped that good news – soon followed by Trevor’s severed head – would not be overly long in arriving.
The lightning flickered on the horizon, sending its surreal glimmer across the water, as Trevor sat, his cheeks streaked with tears.
“Hi,” said a soft, hesitant voice from behind.
The voice, Trevor was sure, had come from the dock, so with his back still turned he hurriedly wiped away his tears and took a deep breath before turning to address his unknown visitor.
Trevor turned, and saw him standing twenty feet away, lit in silhouette by one of the few dockside lights.
A flicker of lightning lit the dock, and Trevor’s jaw clenched. “You,” he growled, pulling himself upright and standing beside his mast. Trevor pointed towards the customs shack. “Still want to report me? There’s two customs officers right over there,” Trevor said in an angry tone, pointing at the customs shack.
“I know, I’ve just come from there,” Shane said quietly, standing casually, his arms at his sides, making no move to come closer. “She’s a Lagoon all right, missing a lot of gear, and from the look of her she’s in a bad way,” Shane said, very quietly, looking at Atlantis.
“What do you want?” Trevor asked, wishing that Shane would go away.
Shane was quiet for a few moments before replying, “I turned you in... or, I tried. I went to the police station in town and told ‘em what I’d seen you doing. I got as far as your description when they changed their tune and went from mean to hostile. They told me to stay away from you, far away, but they wouldn’t say why, then they kicked me out. I’m not one to take no for an answer, so I tried again at the customs shack, seeing as how you’re an American and they’re immigration cops. They gave me a right earbashing, and told me to clear off and keep my cakehole shut. And here you are, docked at their quay, just like you said.”
Trevor jumped down onto the dock, studying Shane intently, but seeing no sign of the previous aggression. “Okay, but I still don’t know why you’re here,” he said, glancing at Shane’s black eye.
Shane stayed where he was. “I came... I wanted to know if it’s true.”
Trevor slowly walked towards Shane, stopping ten feet away. “You really didn’t hear about this?”
Shane shrugged. “I don’t talk to people around here much, but I... I can see from here that something bad happened to your boat, and I see I was wrong about you having her.”
Trevor took a few steps toward the light, putting it between himself and Shane. “How do I know you’re not here looking for some payback,” Trevor asked, studying Shane’s face for any sign of anger, though finding none.
Shane gave Trevor a soft smile. “That’s fair enough. I’m not, and I haven’t got any weapons, I’ve got nothing on me,” Shane said, giving Trevor an open-handed shrug, and slowly turning around.
Trevor watched as Shane slowly turned, letting his eyes wander, first over Shane’s back and shoulders, and then the snug shorts, and as Shane completed the turn, Shane’s bare chest. Trevor found himself getting rattled, but that thought was instantly replaced by another, ‘A few hours ago, he was trying to beat the crap out of me.’ With that, Trevor’s mind cleared, and he focused on the danger he might be in.
Shane lowered his arms and turned his shorts pockets inside out for a moment, but made no move to approach Trevor. “You’ve no worries from me; you gave me the worst of it last time, and likely would again. And if you holler for the customs blokes,” Shane flicked his thumb in the direction of the customs shack. “I’m sure they’d be all too happy to haul me away to jail, because they ordered me to stay away from you.”
Trevor stared at Shane for several long moments, puzzled and suspicious. “She’s a 55, and she’s even worse inside than outside,” Trevor said darkly, though this time his anger wasn’t directed at Shane. “It was pirates, and that’s why the customs officers are helping me.” Trevor pointed to his row of tape patches. “Those are bullet holes. They gutted Atlantis and tried to sink her, after they tried to kill me.”
Shane glanced towards the customs shack, and then turned to stare at Atlantis for a few moments, then he walked to her and crouched down, peeling back one of the tape patches that was well above the waterline. Hesitantly, he touched the bullet hole, probing it, and then he stood up, looking at the remains of Trevor’s netting sail covering Atlantis’s bows.
Shane turned to face Trevor. “I guess you were tellin’ the truth. Sorry mate,” Shane said, and then asked in a quiet voice, “Can I come aboard for a look?”
Trevor was sorely tempted to refuse, but Shane’s attractive looks and contrite demeanor clouded Trevor’s judgment. “Okay,” he said, jumping aboard and descending into the cockpit, and then waiting as Shane slowly followed. Trevor picked up his flashlight and flicked it on, “There’s no electricity aboard, they got everything,” Trevor said, leading the way into the salon. “Watch your step: the salon floor’s gone too, so the crossmembers and stringers are exposed.”
Shane followed, his jaw dropping open for a moment as they entered the salon. In shocked silence, he looked around, staring at the devastation. Shane looked down the galley stairs, and Trevor led the way. “They stripped her completely, and they tore the hell out of her doing it.” Trevor opened the door to Joel’s cabin and shone the light in. “This is where I sleep, because the other cabins are as bad or worse.”
Shane whistled softly, shaking his head.
When they returned to the cockpit, Shane stood up straight, shoulders back, and turned to face Trevor. “When I heard you come aboard Kookaburra, I thought you were out to rip off the boat, and that’s why I went after you like I did when you came back. I was wrong about you, you’re not what I thought, and I’m sorry. I’d like to start over. My name’s Shane Rhys and I’m not always such a bastard. Sometimes, but not always,” Shane said, sticking out his hand.
Trevor hesitated for a moment, and then took Shane’s hand and shook it. “I’m Trevor Carlson, but everyone calls me Trev.” Trevor glanced around at Atlantis, and added, “If there’s anyone who can understand wanting to defend their boat, it’s me, and I guess my story did sound kinda weird.”
Shane chuckled. “That’s an understatement if ever there was one...” He gave Trevor, and then Atlantis, an appraising glance. “Sounds to me like you’ve got one hell of a story here. Tell ya what; to prove that I’m not always a right bastard, I’ll share a beer with you if you’ll tell me the whole thing. I’ll also tell you whatever I can about the Kookaburra. I sure as hell don’t own her, but I’ve crewed on her a few times and I’m living on her and looking after her. The owners are away so I guess you can come aboard for a bit, and I’ll show you around.”
Trevor arched an eyebrow, surprised by the change in Shane, but he could not forget the fight and the threats. ‘No way am I going with him,’ Trevor thought, right before he replied, “You’re on,” blinking in surprise at his own words. Trevor’s emotions warred, but he craved companionship of any kind, so after a few moment’s hesitation, he added, “A beer sounds great; I haven’t had one in months. I had a good stock aboard, but the fucking pirates got it, along with everything else,” Trevor replied, heading for the dock.
“That’s half a can I’m offering. I’ve only got the one. It’s a leftover from my eighteenth birthday last week and I don’t have the money to restock,” Shane said, with a smile and a shrug. “It’s a Four ex.” XXXX beer, pronounced Four ex, is well known in Australia, particularly in Queensland.
Trevor grinned and shrugged. “Never heard of it but it sounds great.”
Shane rolled his eyes. “Four ex is Queensland’s finest product, other than myself of course, and I’ve got to correct your appalling lack of knowledge of it,” Shane said, jumping down to the dock.
Trevor jumped down beside Shane, and both of their heads snapped up as Officer Fowler bellowed from the door of the customs shack. “I told you to clear off and stay away!”
As Fowler, followed by Officer Grundig, headed their way at a fast walk, Shane whispered to Trevor, “They know we fought, but not that I started it. Please...” Shane’s whispered plea trailed off as the officers came close.
Officer Fowler, his hand resting on his Glock pistol, stalked up to Shane. “I didn’t arrest you before, but I will now. Turn around, hands on your head! Trevor, stand clear.”
Shane sighed, did as he’d been ordered, and said, “I owed Trev an apology so I doubled back and gave him one, that’s all.”
“That’s true,” Trevor confirmed.
Fowler patted down Shane’s pockets, and then pulled his arms down, one at a time, cuffing him. “I told you to stay away, and then rang the local police, who told me you’d been there too, trying to raise trouble. I was just coming out to check on Trevor before heading home, and what do I find? You.” Fowler paused, and then asked Trevor, “He tried to report you for trespassing, and also said you gave him that shiner and the bruises he’s sporting. That true as well?”
Trevor hesitated, glancing at Shane, remembering the pirates, and what it was like to have his hands bound behind his back. “Yeah. We got into it, it was both our faults. I jumped aboard Kookaburra to shout for the owner – she’s one of the yachts Ned Kelly told me to have a look at – but I shouldn’t have gone aboard uninvited. We argued a little and I left. When I went back to look at some other yachts, we got into it. I think he was just protecting Kookaburra.”
Fowler and Grundig glanced at Shane in surprise, and Fowler told Shane, “Okay, you can turn around.” He waited until Shane was facing him, stared at him a few moments, and asked Trevor, “What was he doing aboard Atlantis?”
“He asked if he could come aboard for a look, and I said yes. He did come to apologize, and I was about to...” Trevor turned to look at Shane, “Sorry about the black eye, man.” Trevor looked at Fowler and gave him a faint smile. “Shane just invited me back to Kookaburra, so I could have a look, like Ned suggested.”
Fowler and Grundig shared a look, and then Fowler asked Shane, “So why were you trying to cause trouble for Trevor? You said he started the fight.”
“He didn’t start it... but I really did think he was up to no good for the yachts, that’s why I was reporting him. I tried the locals first, then you.”
“So they told me when I rang them,” Fowler said, frowning.
Officer Grundig took Trevor aside and asked quietly, “He can be charged with assault if he started it. Did he?”
Trevor looked back at Shane, and then replied, “No, like I said, it was mutual. He was trying to keep me away from the yachts and wanted me off the dock. It started with shoving and got worse.”
“Okay, then which one of you took the first actual swing?” Grundig asked.
“That would be me,” Trevor admitted.
“What about while he was here? Did he threaten you in any way?” Grundig asked.
Trevor shook his head. “Not at all. I was a little hostile to him at first, but he wasn’t. He came to apologize, like he said, and he did.”
Grundig looked at Shane, and then back at Trevor. “Then there’s not a lot we can turn him over to the locals for, yet,” he said, with a sigh.
Officer Grundig walked back to Fowler and after a fast conversation, Fowler snapped at Shane, “Turn around.” Fowler removed the cuffs, and then turned Shane around. “Listen carefully. You’re on very thin ice, and if you give me an excuse to take you in, I’ll do it. You’re free to go, for now, so go.”
Shane scowled, but nodded and began walking away, saying to Trevor over his shoulder, “Stop by any time, Trev. You’ll be welcome, and sorry about what I did.”
Fowler watched Shane’s retreating back, and once he was out of earshot, told Trevor, “That one is bad news, watch your back around him. I’ve not known him to be violent before today, but if I were you, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell him about what you’ve got in the bank, or about the threats you face.”
“I’ll be careful, but I still need to see his boat.”
Fowler shrugged. “I can’t stop you, but watch your back around him.”
Trevor gave Fowler, and then Grundig, an awkward smile. “Thanks for looking out for me. I’ll be careful.”
Fowler glanced in the direction Shane had gone. “Craig and I were on our way home – we’ve been putting in a lot of overtime lately. I’m worried he may come back. You can still lock your salon door from the inside, so I suggest you do so. I can ring the local police, and see if they can swing by. I can’t tell you who to see, but I can – and am – saying that I will arrest Shane if he sets foot on this dock again. If you have any concerns, I could stay a while longer–”
Trevor shook his head. “I’m not worried about him, I’ll be fine.”
Fowler and Grundig shared a concerned glance, but both had wives, and had been on duty for twelve hours. “Goodnight, Trevor.”
Fifteen minutes later, Fowler and Grundig drove away. Trevor watched them go, and sat on deck thinking for a moment. Then he jumped down onto the dock and began walking away into the dark, towards the marina.
After a few hundred yards, as he neared the small park near the shower, Trevor spotted Shane, leaning up against a lamppost, arms crossed, watching him approach. “Thanks for not landing me in the shit, I owe you one,” Shane said, pushing away from the lamppost as Trevor approached.
Trevor shrugged. “I basically told the truth.”
“After what I did – trying to get you arrested – I’m surprised,” Shane said, walking up to Trevor and falling into pace beside him. “For what it’s worth, I did back off as soon as I figured out you’d just come in on a boat, and so you probably weren’t what I thought. I wish I’d have spotted Atlantis before going to the customs shack, but once I get something fixed in my head, I get pretty intent on it. I didn’t notice her until they kicked me out and ordered me to stay away.”
“That offer of a look at Kookaburra and half a beer still good?” Trevor asked, with a faint smile.
“Sure is, just wish I had more to offer,” Shane confirmed, as they walked towards the marina.
“Follow me, there’s a shortcut,” Shane said as they neared the marina fence, leading Trevor to a gap beneath the chain link and scrambling through, with Trevor right behind.
Climbing aboard Kookaburra, they made their way to the salon, and as Shane flicked on the lights, Trevor paused to have a look around. “Wow, she’s really something; everything’s sleek and modern. I have... had, a lot of upgrades on Atlantis, but she didn’t look as good as this.”
Shane nodded, standing tall. “First-rate everything, including the stereo,” he said, and he flicked it on. “I’ve crewed on yachts before, but this one’s the best of the lot.” Shane said, descending into the galley as Trevor followed. Shane retrieved his can of beer from the refrigerator, cracking it open, and then pouring a little more than half into a tall glass, which he handed to Trevor, keeping the can for himself. He then pulled an open bag of potato chips from a cupboard. “I hope you like chips, as that’s all I have.”
“Sounds good to me,” Trevor said, and then took a drink of beer. “You’re right, this is good.”
Shane grinned. “If you like Four ex, you can’t be all bad,” he said with a chuckle, leading the way to the sofa. He took a seat and added casually, “How about that story, mate? You and the pirates, I mean.”
Trevor sat down an arm’s length from Shane, took another drink of beer, and began his recount, starting with waking up with a gun in his face. The only parts he left out were about his stash spot, cash and gun; he didn’t want Shane to know about them.
When Trevor was done, Shane whistled softly. “Fucking hell! If that happened to me, I don’t know as I’d ever want to go to sea again. And then you singlehanded your wrecked boat across the fucking Southern Ocean!”
“Yeah, and rode out a storm below fifty south,” Trevor confirmed, with just a touch of pride.
“If I were you I’d use it, Trev. You’ve one hell of a story there, and you’ve done something that’ll make you famous, and rightfully so. If I were you, I’d be out milking it for everything I could get. Think about it... You could walk into any pub in town, and they’d buy you all the grog you could hold, and you’d have the chicks after you in droves. And that’s just a start... The press would treat you like a god, and pay you a fortune for an exclusive. You play your cards right and you’ve got it made! I’d trade places with you in a flash if I could,” Shane observed, nodding to himself, just once.
Trevor reminded himself that Shane only knew part of the story, and nothing about the bomb or the issues with his father. “I just need a little time to get my head straight, that’s all. I was alone for a long time, so the idea of being the center of attention isn’t high on my list, at least not for a couple of days...”
Shane stared at Trevor for a few moments, and then angled his head slightly. “If you don’t mind me being nosy as a Pom, how’d you come to own a yacht like that at your age?” Shane asked.
Trevor thought for a few seconds, deciding what he could tell Shane. “I inherited her from my mom. She had two, both Lagoon 55s – Atlantis and Ares – and ran them as charters. She died at sea when Ares went down off Bimini – that’s in the Bahamas – nine years ago.”
“Fuck, that must have been rough on you, to lose your mum at that age. I was fifteen when my mum died in a car crash, and it still hurts,” Shane said, in a very quiet voice.
“I guess we have that in common,” Trevor said, with a sad smile. “I’m still searching for the wreck of the Ares... when I get home, I’m going to find her, no matter what it takes... Anyhow, what about you? How’d you end up on Kookaburra?”
Shane shrugged. “Not much to tell. I’m from Cairns, in Queensland’s north. I’ve been hiring out as crew on and off since I was fifteen. After my mum died, it was just me and my stepdad – my real dad did a runner when I was eight. I guess you could say that him – my step dad – and me were never close, and after mum died, things got worse, so I started crewing in case things got bad between us, which they did. I had to go live with my aunt. She’s never been too keen on me, but she let me crash in her garage and fix it up a bit.” Shane paused for a moment, giving his head a sad shake, and then went on, “I’ve done surf lifesaving since I was nine and I’m good,” Shane sat up a little straighter, and continued. “I’ve won more than my fair share of competitions as I’ve been growing up, including some statewide events and came close to going to the nationals, once. So, I heard about one down near Perth, with a fat cash prize for the winners. I was sure I could win, and I didn’t have much to hold me in Cairns, so I scraped up enough for the entry fee, got myself to Perth one-way with the rest of my dough. Probably not the smartest move, but it was all I could afford to do at the time. I’d brought my surfboard with me, and I was camping on the beach, so I headed out to grab a few sets the day before the competition and get a workout. A grommet cut me off on a takeoff and I did in my shoulder. Just a strained tendon, but it made sure I wouldn’t win the competition. That left me damn near skint – that’s broke to you. I phoned my aunt and tried to talk her into spotting me the bus fare home, but she wasn’t having any of it.”
“That sucks,” Trevor said, shaking his head, trying to think of what else he could say.
Shane smiled. “Not all that bad. I’m used to living rough, so I decided to hitch my way home There are some fine surfing breaks along this coast, so I went north – not the fastest way to Cairns – hitchhiking and skating, doing whatever it took to get by, until I ended up wet, hungry, and skint, stuck out in a thunderstorm on the edge of Carnarvon. I walked in and found the marina. I needed money so I tried to find a crew slot, but nobody was interested in hiring. So, I hung around, offering to crew for just room and board. Still no takers; I guess the idea of taking on a minor without approval didn’t appeal. Anyway, I hadn’t eaten in two days when Kookaburra came in from a charter. I offered to clean her in return for a meal, and the owners – the Blakes – said no, but then Mrs. Blake suddenly said yes, and she fed me first, and then after as well. If the Blakes hadn’t given me a hand, I don’t know where I’d be. That was in June, and I ended up crewing on Kookaburra for the rest of the season. The Blakes left a few weeks ago, when the season ended – they live down south, near Geraldton, in the off-season – So now I’m taking care of Kookaburra, plus doing maintenance, until the charters start again in April, then we’ll be heading out... or, that’s what I hope. They haven’t yet said whether I’ll be staying on, but they haven’t sacked me yet, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
Feeling sympathy and thinking of his own current situation as well, Trevor asked, “What was it like, when you first started living here, new in town and not really knowing anyone except the owners?”
Shane looked at the deck for a few moments before replying, “Not a lot of fun. That’s one of the reasons I felt bad once I learnt you were telling the truth. It was fine while the Blakes were here, but once they left, I didn’t really know anyone. I’ve met a few people since, just acquaintances, but it’s a small town, and being an outsider isn’t too much fun. It’s been rough since the Blakes left – I’ve been alone a lot.”
Trevor nodded. “I guess I’ll be finding out all about that. Atlantis is going to be under repair for a couple of months at least, and so far I know you, the customs officers, and Ned Kelly, who’s doing the repairs.”
“Oh,him...” Shane said, scowling. “I’ve had a run-in or two with ole’ Ned. I gave him some stick about his name a few times, and he didn’t take it too well.”
“His name?” Trevor asked, arching an eyebrow.
Shane nodded and grinned. “Yeah, Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger – an outlaw from about a century or so ago. I was giving Ned – a Pommy bastard of the first order – some stick about being in the same line of work and he got hostile, right quick.”
“Do you think he’s okay to hire to repair Atlantis?” Trevor asked.
Shane thought about it for a few seconds, and then scowled. “Probably. If you’re hiring him, you’re the boss so he’ll be okay with you. Me, he just considers to be a surf bum, and he’s right enough I guess. He just doesn’t seem to like surfies. From what I’ve seen, his work’s good; The Blakes said he did Kookaburra up last year, plus I know he’s worked on a lot of the other boats here. They say he does sound work but doesn’t mind charging high for it. I guess he’s got a corner on the market, seeing as he’s the only boatyard in the region.”
Trevor nodded. “I don’t have a lot of options. I’m pretty well stuck here until Atlantis is fixed, and that’s assuming my insurance comes through.”
Shane gave Trevor a long appraising glance. “You were alone, with nobody to talk to, for months. I thought I was alone here, but I can just walk into town if I want, and at least talk to store clerks and the like. How the hell did you stay sane?”
Trevor chuckled, shaking his head. “I’ve never been sane so no problems there,” Trevor quipped, and then, in a quieter tone, added, “I had a few paperback books, and I have a journal I wrote in, plus I took up drawing and sketching, it helped pass the time. When the customs boat rescued me, I found it hard to talk. I was out of practice, I guess. I had trouble walking too; landlegs, thanks to being at sea so long. I got over it pretty quick though. What was really weird was being here. Every day since the attack, I thought about getting into port. I wanted it so bad I could taste it, but when I finally got here, it was... kind of like being out at sea again. I didn’t know anybody, and when I woke up here this morning, I was afraid it was all a dream, but then it was hard to leave the boat. Part of me just wanted to stay put.”
Shane stared into Trevor’s face, and then nodded in understanding. “I think I see where you’re coming from. I was kind of the same, when I got here. Still am, in a way. Back when you arrived... what did you most want?”
Trevor grinned. “Something to eat besides the canned hotdogs I’d been eating for two fucking months. I had the most awesome Chinese take-out right after they towed me in. Then, when I woke up this morning, I had the leftovers – best leftovers ever, from my point of view – and then raided the convenience store for snack foods, all the stuff I’ve been dreaming about.” Trevor looked out the window, lost in thought.
Shane suddenly blinked. “Hold up... This morning? When did you get here?”
“The customs patrol boat found me yesterday afternoon and towed me in last night. I ate and sacked out until late this morning,” Trevor said.
“Fuck, I was thinking you’d been here a while, a few days at least. So on your first day here, you bump into me in my grouchy bastard mode and we end up in a brawl. Sorry about that, mate.”
“Don’t worry about it, and you’ve sure made up for it since... and I get the part about protecting this boat. After what those fucking pirates did to Atlantis... But I gotta ask, were you serious when you threatened to use the boathook on me?” Trevor asked, smiling to let Shane know there were no hard feelings.
Shane grinned and shook his head. “Probably not, not unless you’d tried to rob Kookaburra, then I probably would’ve. Not just to be a bastard, but because I owe the Blakes that. This is their boat and they’ve been more than great to me, so I’ll do what I can to protect her. That’s why I got so aggro when I heard you come aboard.”
Trevor nodded and smiled. “I can understand that. Hell, I think I’d be worse, if some stranger came aboard Atlantis and took me by surprise.”
“I was asleep, and then next thing I know I’m thinking ‘thief’... and then your surprise at finding an Australian in Australia, that’s one for the books,” Shane said, before chuckling.
Trevor laughed and then gave the best explanation that he could think of, short of the truth. “Sometimes I say dumb stuff when I’m startled. Plus now, I sometimes find it hard to talk. I was alone for a long time.”
Shane gave Trevor an understanding smile. “It must have been weird for you, going through all that, then all of a sudden, boom, you’re here.”
“It felt so good to get here, to eat real food again, and feel safe, but I’d have traded it all for Joel or Lisa, my two best friends at home. Joel and I were in the Mediterranean for a month, but then he had to go home. I had so much fun with him there, and when he left from Cyprus, it was one hell of a downer.”
Shane leaned back, looking at the ceiling. “I’ll bet you wish he could have stayed.”
“Hell no I don’t, not after what happened,” Trevor said, shaking his head and shuddering. “I’d have given anything for him to have stayed with me, but if he’d been with me when the pirates attacked.... It was a miracle I survived; I doubt we both could have, he could have died,” Trevor said, shivering violently from the memory.
Shane gave Trevor a wistful glance. “If there’s a better definition of loyalty, I don’t know it. Joel’s lucky to have a friend like you.”
“I’m lucky to have him. He’s the best. We’ve been friends for a long time, and he... adopted me. We’re brothers now, and he’s coming into Perth for a couple of weeks at Christmas to see me. I’ve talked to him once since I got here, and that was awesome, but after the call, I felt really down.”
Shane became quiet for a few minutes, just sitting and drinking his beer, looking out the window. Finally, in an uncharacteristically subdued voice, he said, “You and I are in kind of the same fix, in a way. I’ve been here a while so I know a few people, but just barely, not enough to really talk to, other than the Blakes, and they probably won’t be back until the season, except for an occasional visit. I know we just met, and in kind of a rough way, but I’d like us to be friends. I think we both need one, and having a mate sure as hell beats drinking alone, like I did on my birthday.”
Trevor paused for a moment, remembering again that only hours before, Shane had been trying to punch his lights out. But the offer seemed genuine, so Trevor extended his hand. “Friends, then,” Trevor said, as the two guys clenched fists, holding on tight for a few long moments.
After a while, the talk turned to their shared love of surfing, and Trevor said, “I had my boards on Atlantis, so naturally the fucking pirates got ‘em. My insurance is supposed to cover stuff like that, so I’ll get some new ones soon.”
“That’s a lucky break for you then; Australia makes the best boards in the world. There’s a shaper here in town, works out of his garage. I’ve met him a few times, seems to know his stuff, and he’s well enough known that I’ve seen his sticks in Cairns. When you get sorted out, I’ll take you by his place to have a look. You could even get custom boards. Until then, we can take turns on mine. There’s a beach north of here that’s pretty decent when there’s a west swell.”
Trevor grinned. “That’d be great. I haven’t been out in forever, feels like it anyway.”
“We’d need some wheels, there’s nowhere within walking distance,” Shane said, scratching his head.
“I wish I could rent a moped or a car, but your driving age is eighteen, I think?” Trevor asked.
Shane shook his head. “Not here, mate. In Western Australia, it’s seventeen. How old are you? If you’re seventeen, you’ll be home and hosed.”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, I turn eighteen in June. I’ve never tried to rent anything before though. They probably won’t let me.”
Shane tapped himself proudly on the chest. “That’s where having a friend like me will come in handy. They rent mopeds here in the tourist season, and in the off-season, they love to rent ‘em out to damn near anybody, even me. I had one for a day so I could head up the coast to a surf spot I’d heard about. I’ll take you around and they’ll probably cut you a good deal until the season starts.”
“Think they’d sell me a used one? I’ll be here for a few months, and if it’s light enough to get aboard easy, I can stow it on Atlantis and use it for the rest of my trip.”
Shane thought about it for a few seconds before replying, “No idea, but I’ll bet they’d love to unload some of the older ones. Just be careful you don’t get ripped off. For getting it on Atlantis, why lift it? Just use a plank as a ramp run it aboard, then down into the cockpit.”
Trevor nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, that’d work, but I want to be able to haul it in the Zodiac when I’m anchored offshore... once I get a new Zodiac, anyhow.”
“Let’s have a look,” Shane said, getting up and walking out into the cockpit. He looked at Kookaburra’s Zodiac, hanging on its davits between the sterns. He opened the gate in the rear railing, turned around, and leaned back on the railing with his elbows. “As long as you can lift it, you should do okay. The hard bit will be getting it in and out when you take the Zodiac ashore; you’ll need to lift it then.”
Trevor nodded, trying to look at the railing and not at Shane’s bare torso. “Yeah, that would be perfect.”
Shane angled his head slightly, his blond hair blowing in the tropical breeze. “You’re talking better than you were. You were awkward at first, but you seem okay now, except for the funny accent.”
Trevor laughed. “I guess I could say the same about you.”
Shane smirked, brushing his hair back. “I’ve never had trouble talking; I do a hell of a lot of it. Too much, most of the time, as you’ll likely notice if you haven’t already.”
“I’ve noticed,” Trevor said, snickering.
“Figured as much,” Shane said with a laugh, and then turned to close the gate in the rail.
Trevor’s eyes watched Shane’s muscles for a moment, and then he chided himself for it, thinking, ‘I better chill, or he’ll bust me.’ Trevor was painfully aware that his newfound friend was his only one for half a world in any direction. Trevor had been alone for a long time and craved companionship, even more than he was willing to admit.
The two guys returned to Kookaburra’s salon, and Trevor began to tell Shane about Florida, while Shane told Trevor about Queensland.
Shortly after midnight, Shane said, “You hungry? I’m skint until my next payday on Friday, but I stocked up on food with most of my last one. How about some hot dogs, grilled on the barbie?” As soon as the words had left Shane’s mouth, he saw Trevor wince, and understood why. “Sorry mate, I guess they’re not high on your list right now. How about a melted cheese sandwich? If not, I’ve got canned stuff, and some hamburgers we could thaw in the micro–”
“Cheese sandwiches sound great, man. And yeah, it’ll be a while before I can even look at a hot dog again. You’re not even the first to offer me one since I got here; that’s what they offered me first, on the customs boat that rescued me,” Trevor said, both laughing and cringing at the memory.
Shane walked down into the galley, and Trevor followed. As Shane made the cheese sandwiches and loaded them in the microwave, he said, “Did you do any sports in school? And how the hell did you convince your dad to let you skip school to sail around the world?”
Trevor paused for a moment, not wanting to get into that subject. “It wasn’t easy, but here I am. I was on my high school swim team and I’ve played some water polo too. What about you?”
Shane grinned. “I figured you for a swimmer. Same here, and that’s how I got into surf lifesaving.”
“I’ve heard of it, but we didn’t have anything like that in Fort Pierce, wish we did,” Trevor replied.
“Another gap in your education I’ll try to fix while you’re here,” Shane replied, handing Trevor a sandwich.
They ate in the salon, talking about yachts, and when Trevor finished his sandwich, he stifled a yawn.
“Got any plans for tomorrow?” Shane asked.
“Yeah, Ned’s going to meet me at Atlantis in the morning, but unless he needs me, I should be free after that... except for getting some new clothes so my ass isn’t hanging out... and maybe a skateboard too.”
“I can show you around and help get yourself sorted out,” Shane offered.
Trevor yawned and stood up, stretching. “Thanks. I’d better head back to Atlantis or I’ll still be asleep when Ned comes in the morning. Can I meet you here about noon?”
Shane smiled and nodded, and then he glanced at one of the passenger cabins. “I’ve seen the state your boat is in; you’ve not even got a mattress. I wish I could offer to let you stay here, but I’m not really supposed to have people aboard, let alone kipping in the passenger cabins. Hey, hold on... what about a bedroll? I’ve got one you can use, and it’s mine so there’s no issues.”
Trevor nodded eagerly, “That’d be awesome, thanks!”
Shane opened one of the under-couch storage bins, and reached out his hiker’s pack. Detaching the bedroll, he tossed it to Trevor and said, “See you tomorrow, Trev.”
“Thanks, Shane,” Trevor said, tucking the bedroll under his arm as he walked out into the cockpit. With a final wave, he hopped ashore and walked back towards Atlantis.
When Trevor entered Atlantis’s salon, he fumbled for the small pocket flashlight he’d bought, and flicked it on. The difference between his own stripped boat, dark and uninviting, and the luxurious Kookaburra, made Trevor sad. “It’ll take one hell of a lot to get her back in trim, but it’ll happen,” Trevor said aloud, trying to reassure himself.
Trevor set up Shane’s bedroll in Joel’s cabin, and stretched out on the unaccustomed softness. He was soon asleep, and slept soundly until the nightmares returned to plague him.
Aboard the Kookaburra, Shane, bathed in the glow of a computer monitor, was tying furiously. Half an hour later, he finished his typing and, with a glance at the clock, hit the ‘print’ button.
Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.
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Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions. Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice. Any remaining errors are mine alone.